Essential Oil has become something of a buzz word, with so much conflicting information it’s hard to know who to trust and what is accurate and safe information, especially with use on babies and children. It becomes increasingly harder when misguided advice comes from Essential Oil companies themselves!
Essential oils are in essence plant extracts produced by steam or water distillation. They are extremely concentrated and potent. Essential oils can be fantastic for wellness, health and skincare when they are used safely and have a range of benefits they can bring us. However due to their concentrated nature they should be treated with respect and caution.
Children are more sensitive in general to essential oils and their aromas than adults. Children’s immune systems have not fully developed and are less able to deal with adverse effects when essential oils are used on them and in the air around them.
Menthol containing essential oils such as Peppermint, Eucalyptus and certain types of Rosemary can cause slowed respiration in some children. It is therefore due to this that Peppermint is not recommended for children under 6 years of age & eucalyptus is not recommend for children under the age of 10, this includes both topically and through diffusion.
A child’s skin is much thinner than that of an adult. Therefore essential oils should only be used with great caution on children under the age of 2. New born babies and children under 12 months of age are even more sensitive and even less able to deal with adverse effects of essential oils; therefore essential oils should not be used on children under the age of 12 months old without strict supervision from a health care provider.
Dilution is great way to use essential oils around children and is generally a safer method than topical use for children under the age of 6. Be sure to do your research and buy high quality essential oils from a company that carries out sustainable practices. Don’t be fooled by “therapeutic grade” claims on some essential oil brands, formally there is no such thing as a therapeutic grade oil this is a greenwashing and a marketing campaign by some essential oil companies. Be sure to do your due diligence when deciding on a supplier of essential oils.
A Child’s skin is far more permable than adults and is therefore recommended that a dilution of no more than .25% is used for children topically under the age of 6. This means just 1 drop if essential per 4 teaspoons of carrier oil such as coconut, olive, jojoba etc. Diluting essential oils provides a good medium for the oils to be absorbed and easily spread over skin, and it also provides a measure of safety against irritation, sensitivity, phototoxicity and sensitization.
Below is a list of essential oils considered generally safe for Children topically over 2 years of age and through dilution for children younger than 2 years old (& older).
Below are a few essential oils that should not be used on or around children under the age of 2, this is not a complete list of unsafe essential oils for young children, always ensure to do you due diligence when using essential oils on or around young children and even yourself.
In summary, essential oils are fantastic and can be used to increase our and our families wellness, however only when safe practices are followed.
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Herbalist & Owner of Herbal Hiraeth
Article References –
Lea Harris, 2014, Safely using Essential Oil’s for Children, Herbal Academy Blog.
Lea Harris, 2014, A Closer Look at Essential Oils and Safety, Herbal Academy Blog.